You are probably wondering why I would even make such a statement that's in this column's headline. Before you make any hasty conclusions, let me tell you that I am a cat lover. We have four of the little darlings in our house. When I was actively farming, we had several cats, but, of course, not in the house. They lived in the barn and their role was to keep the rat and mouse population in check.
Recently Will Walter, Chris Downs, and I attended a lecture on the campus of SDSU. Wes Jamison, a professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, gave a presentation, Political Sausage Making: An Analysis of Animal Rights Messages and Implications for Animal Agriculture. What he had to say about the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was most enlightening. This organization should not be confused with your local animal shelter which finds homes for unwanted pets. The primary function of the HSUS is as a lobbyist group. The economic impact of its efforts has a direct effect on normal production practices in animal agriculture by having restrictions placed on them by animal rights groups.
If your cat tasted like chicken, would you eat her? What's the difference? This message from HSUS would have an impact on any cat owner, making him/her feel guilty about eating chickens raised in the US. We are talking about 8 billion chickens slaughtered annually. They want consumers to feel that our gluttony causes their [the chickens] suffering. As I alluded to, when I was farming, cats had a role (i.e. controlling rodents and sparrows). However, now that I am living with house cats, my wife has made me understand that she thinks of these cats as, to coin a phrase, 'furry children'. My wife was a target of the HSUS and, until recently, donated money to the HSUS as one of her charities.
We can contradict the campaign of the HSUS by giving the public food literacy, a good term according to Jamison. Animals take things that we can't use and change them into things we can use, Jamison said, And this has been true since the beginning of human history. Meat is a wonderful self-contained nutrient packet of things you need. I hope you will do your part to educate consumers on the subject of animal agriculture.
Soil Health Information Day will be Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Davison County Fairgrounds complex, 3200 West Havens Street, Mitchell. Pre-registration is $25 postmarked by 12/07/2012 and $35 at the door. Contact your Regional Extension Center or go to http://igrow.org/about/our-experts/ While in Mitchell, I invite you to come to Mitchell Technical Institute and learn more about the SD Center for Farm/Business Management.